Pleas to Downing Street usually get short shrift – ask the friends of still plain Mister Bruce Forsyth – but the lower echelons of British sport are hoping that their protest to the PM over the absence of pre-2012 funding won't be given the seasonal Scrooge treatment by a grumpy Gordon. Organised by the volleyball player Lucy Wicks, a petition set up on the No 10 website has over 2,000 signatures from representatives of the eight Olympic sports, including volleyball (in whichBritain make their world championships debut in Sheffield this weekend), table tennis and shooting, that have missed out on a share of the £292 million given to other sports featuring in 2012. Not until the end of the month will they know if they will get a few crumbs from the table – if anything, says Wicks, 26. "All sports for which funding has not been clarified find their programmes threatened, and we are now in danger of being unable to pursue our dreams of competing in 2012. Our dedication is being ignored. We want the Government to keep its promises to help us provide a legacy."
Duel purpose at Arsenal
It should not have escaped the attention of the Arsenal boardroom that the Russian metals magnate with a significant stake in the club, Alisher Usmanov, has just been elected as the new president of world fencing. Apparently in his duelling days his speciality was the sabre, something we suspect he might soon be rattling in the direction of the Emirates.
Poker plays Olympic card
From darts to dominos, rugby to the rhumba, everyone wants to get in on the Olympic act. Seven activities are queuing to contest admission to the 2016 Games, more for 2020. The latest is poker, which has launched a campaign claiming it is "ripe for Olympic recognition, being cross-gender with, global popularity and requiring great skill". According to the well-informed insidethegames.com, the Advertising Standards Authority have ruled that poker can now be described as a sport on gambling websites, and a would-be British Olympic squad has even been selected, including Victoria Coren, the daughter of the late Alan Coren, a bit of a card himself. Presumably, in the best traditions of her dad, she is having a laugh.
Brits walk on water
One genuine sport not on the Olympic agenda, though Britain surely wishes it was, is water-skiing. Once again British men and women have dominated world and European events without so much as a passing mention in any reviews of the year. Their reward? A 24 per cent cut in elite funding from UK Sport (though money from Sport England for development has increased). And as a non-Olympic sport, water-skiing loses all financial support from UK Sport in 2013. Yet if it was in the Games doubtless it would harvest as many British golds as cycling and sailing. If Britain is to continue ruling the waves, shouldn't the rules be waived?
Highs and lows for 2009
In 2009 let's have lower profiles from pushy FA chairman Lord Triesman and ubiquitous photo-opportunist Tom Daley; and a higher one from understated Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who should insist his predecessor, Richard Caborn, sorts out the mess at the ABA over which he now presides.